I've just started travelling all over Australia over a 6 week period interviewing about 20 congregational leaders, ordained and lay, about Christian education - for the research project that I'm undertaking for our national Assembly and as a PhD thesis through Flinders University. Last year I conducted pilot interviews with several people. Now I've started the formal reseaerch and interviewed six people - all excellent conversations.
My research question is: What dynamic characteristics of educational leadership and of learning communities are significant for effective education for Christian discipleship in the Uniting Church’s postmodern missional context?
A question for you to ponder: Do faith communities and their leaders see lifelong learning in the beliefs and practices of Christian discipleship for the mission of God as central to their ‘reason for being’?
For the purposes of the study, Christian education is defined as the theory and practice of teaching, learning and formation in life-long Christian faith and discipleship, both for individuals and communities of faith. (Thanks to John Littleton for the suggestion of the last phrase).
The term "Christian education" seems problematic for the Uniting Church at this time, hence I am using it as an umbrella concept, and inviting people to speak in their own terms about growth in faith and discipleship.
I wrote a catch-phrase for an interim report that went: Fostering life-long discipleship through informed practice in intentional community for missional living in postmodern society.
That might sound like a bunch of cliches, but it summarised a number of aspects of the study.
This is the first of two rounds of the qualitative study, of which I'll say more. I'm travelling to every state and territory in order to interview church leaders whose congregations are diverse in terms of location, size, theology, culture, style and mission emphasis.
It's a wonderful privilege, and i hope to share some of the journey with you. Stay tuned...